Cam Newton's first season with the Patriots came to a close earlier than both sides would have wanted as New England finished out the year 7-9 and on the outside looking of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. As the 2020 campaign ends, it does leave the quarterback's future up in the air not only from a Patriots standpoint -- will be an unrestricted free agent this spring -- but also his standing in the league as a starter.
With Newton's poor statistics throwing the ball this season, there may not be as many teams as once imagined breaking down the door to sign him as their starter. That now brings up the question of whether or not Newton would accept being a veteran backup for someone heading into 2021. While he didn't flat out say no to that scenario during his Monday appearance on WEEI's The Greg Hill Show, he clearly still sees himself as a starting-caliber player in the league.
"For me, when I look at the whole situation, if you're asking me if I want to be a backup? Hell no. Because when I look at the other teams and I am looking at how players play and it's been guys getting away with what I feel [is] murder for years because of subpar play," Newton said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. "Do I have the right to say that with the year that I had this year? No. But, I am going to be honest and say it because that is what I do.
"If you're asking me if I am better than another person if you give me the name I probably won't say it now because I know it will be on some type of blog or whatever. But at the same time when you're asking me when I am going through this process again and I am saying, 'Would you do this?' And I am going to say, 'Well, do you see that?' It's just going to go down like that. I have a lot of ammunition in the barrel to get better this offseason and that is what I am going to focus on doing."
Newton added that he knows "what my talent is" and believes "out of 32 guys, I am not the 32 position rank in that position."
While Newton's passing numbers were down, he did rush for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns, proving that he can still make plays with his feet. Newton also turned in his best game of the season through the air in Week 17, albeit against the New York Jets. He threw for three touchdowns and 242 yards in the win.
As we noted earlier, Newton will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, meaning he can sign with any club as soon as the free agency window opens so long as New England doesn't place the franchise tag on him. One of the regrets he noted about his first year with New England was that he wished he had more time to learn the system after signing with the team in late June. Getting on a roster much earlier seems to be a point of emphasis this time around.
"That's definitely going to go into consideration," he said. "I am not going to wait [until] the latter part of another [offseason] when I have the opportunity to do something or sign with someone. And I think I put myself at a disadvantage [with] that. But yeah, you just live and learn."
When asked how he would feel if the opportunity arose to return to the Patriots in 2021, Newton said: "Remarkable."